Dale Earnhardt Jr. surprises military veteran before Daytona 500

Chris Graythen
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2017 daytona 500

Chris Graythen
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, is introduced onstage during the 59th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 26, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

- A lucky veteran got a chance to ride in the Goodyear blimp at the Daytona International Speedway, but didn’t realize that one of the people manning the blimp was NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Paul Siverson is a Marine Corps veteran who has served in Vietnam, Somalia and Desert Storm. Siverson also volunteers with Charlotte-based NCServes, where he helps veterans and service members transition back to their civilian lives.

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“I always wanted to be a Marine. I came for two and stayed for 30. That’s what I tell people,” Siverson said.

Siverson is also a diehard NASCAR and Earnhardt fan.

To celebrate Siverson’s life of service, Goodyear offered him and his wife a free trip to the Daytona 500 and a ride aboard the blimp.

Photos: Kurt Busch wins 2017 Daytona 500

Siverson got a huge surprise when he found out Earnhardt was waiting on board.

Earnhardt also gave a $10,000 donation to NCServes.

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